- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 2nd UK ed. edition (May 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781408152096
- ISBN-13: 978-1408152096
- ASIN: 1408152096
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 458 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #401,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. by Martyn Kenefick, Robin L. Restall, Floyd Hayes Paperback – May 2011
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About the Author
Martyn Kenefick lives in Trinidad where he is a professional bird guide. Robin Restall is the illustrator of Birds of Northern South America and lives in Venezuela. Floyd Hayes is an American who formerly taught at the university on Trinidad.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I bought both this and the Richard ffrench guides, having seen very favorable reviews posted for both and not knowing which I should get. In cases like these, I'd rather have too many guides, or guides that supplement each other well, than being left with a subpar guide.
After going through both of them, I prefer ffrench's, hands-down. This is mainly due to a couple of key selling points, geared towards usability in the field:
1. The illustrations are VASTLY superior to Kenefick's. They are far more lifelike, with better attention to detail for proportion, posture, and colors/shading.
2. For every species, opposite the image on the plates, you can tell at a glance whether you can expect to find the bird in Trinidad, Tobago, or both. This cannot be said for Kenefick et al.'s guide, in which range is given at the end of a paragraph summary, and sometimes is not explicit. [E.g., if they said "can be found on the north coast," I'd have to keep reading just to know which island they meant.]
I recently went to Tobago for a week, and I didn't want to waste any time in the field skimming through a description to see if a species was likely to be found there. I though ffrench's tactic of including island location directly after the species' name to be extremely accessible. He uses a code of T, To, or (T) / (To) - the latter parenthetical notation being to denote whether the species is rare or not. Truly, at a glance, you can discern where you're likely to see a bird, which makes narrowing down likely candidates for an unknown species that much easier.
Throughout the text, ffrench offers detailed, insightful observations to species' behaviors, and frequently cites his own banding measurements to help differentiate in size between M/F, or similar species. He demonstrates his mastery of the Trinibagoan birds with every species account. Within this guide, you frequently learn much more about a species (or his direct experience with a species) than just "what it looks like" - as when he recounts a Peregrine Falcon stooping towards a net he had set up, in which he had recently caught Western Sandpipers, only to see it at the last moment and divert its path to avoid either getting caught or crashing through it. That kind of insight both shares his passion for the birds, as well as makes (perhaps what may have been otherwise dry) species accounts come to life!
Is the ffrench guide perfect? No. Here are a few cons:
-- he rarely pays attention to flight behavior, be it soaring/gliding/wingbeats, or just general impressions. For some birds, like raptors, this kind of information would be welcome!
-- the book is a little outdated, so some more recent taxonomic splits (e.g., Blue Crowned Motmot is now Trinidad Motmot) aren't accounted for.
-- species typically only have 1-2 illustrations, with delineations occurring between sexually dimorphic species (M/F) or for some confusing juveniles vs. adult counterparts.
To give Kenefick et al. credit where it is due, they have up-to-date taxonomic information, and habitually show VERY helpful illustrations, even though I still deem those illustrations inferior in artistic/lifelike quality to ffrench's. For example, Kenefick shows ALL warbler plumage types (M/F, spring/fall, 1st/2nd[/3rd] year plumages) - which is so helpful if you're not as familiar with warblers during both spring and fall migration, or may still get tripped up on some confusing ones, like fall Chestnut-sided Warblers, or 2nd year male American Redstarts. Kenefick and colleagues also cleverly show unexpected, but very helpful, angles of birds: a head-on look of a Coquette hummingbird, or the chins/throats of almost all flycatcher species----I really wish more guides did this!
However, when it came time to pack, ffrench made the cut and Kenefick didn't. I'm fine on warbler ID and can usually figure out flycatchers with patience, even without throat patterns. :) If you're looking for just one guide to take with you, let it be ffrench's, due to its unmatched illustrations, detailed descriptions, and ease of use.